President McAleese presents Siobhán Parkinson with her medal as Laureate na nÓg
President Mary McAleese announced Siobhán Parkinson as Laureate na nÓg, Ireland’s first laureate for children’s literature, presenting her with the Laureate na nÓg medal at a special event at the Arts Council. Laureate na nÓg is a new initiative of the Arts Council with the support of the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Children’s Books Ireland and Poetry Ireland.
The honour has been established to engage young people with high quality children’s literature and to underline the importance of children’s literature in our cultural and imaginative life. Laureate na nÓg is also supported by Eason’s and by the Irish Times. Pat Moylan, Chairman of the Arts Council, said, ‘The Arts Council is proud to initiate Ireland’s first laureate for children’s literature. Laureate na nÓg seeks to broaden and enrich young people’s imaginative worlds, to encourage a love of reading and to inculcate the value of literature among children and young people. Literature plays a unique role in helping us to interrogate who we are as a society, it has the power to make us understand what it means to be human, and it offers us that most subversive of things – pleasure.’
She continued, ‘This is an exciting and valuable initiative and it comes at a time when good news and optimism, particularly in relation to children and young people, are vital. Through the Laureate, and the Arts Council’s overall support for children’s literature, we are working to get more children reading and reading more adventurously.’ Speaking about her appointment Siobhán Parkinson said, ‘I am thrilled and honoured to be chosen as the first Laureate na nÓg. I believe that children’s literature lays the foundations of the imaginative life of a people, and that every child deserves to have access to a reading haven — a well-stocked and well-run library in their school and in their community.’
Siobhán Parkinson writes fiction for children and young people (and occasionally for adults.) She has published more than twenty books since 1992, and her work has been translated into as many languages. She has been shortlisted nine times for the Bisto Book of the Year Award, which she won on one occasion; she has received Bisto Merit and Honour awards four times. She has been included on the international Ibby Honour list twice as well as several White Raven awards. Most recently she won an Oireachtas award for Dialann Sár-Rúnda Amy Ní Chonchúir her first book in Irish. She has also translated several titles from German and is commissioning editor at Little Island, a new Irish imprint. Her award winning books include – Sisters – No Way!, Amelia, The Love Bean, Breaking the Wishbone and Four Kids, Three Cats, Two Cows, One Witch (Maybe). She is an outspoken champion of the cause of children’s literature, and writes and speaks passionately on the subject both in Ireland and internationally. She lives in Dublin with her husband, the woodturner Roger Bennett